Weeks Before Olympic Win, She Had an Abortion

Sanya Richards-Ross reveals what she went through in new memoir
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 6, 2017 1:39 PM CDT
Weeks Before Olympic Win, She Had an Abortion
United States' Allyson Felix, Mary Wineberg, Sanya Richards and Monique Henderson, from left, celebrate winning the gold in the women's 4x400-meter relay during the athletics competitions in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2008.   (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Weeks before she won gold at the 2008 Olympics, Sanya Richards-Ross had an abortion. The now-32-year-old reveals the story in her new memoir, Chasing Grace, People reports. She was engaged to Aaron Ross at the time (the two are now married), and the pregnancy was not planned. Her dream was to win Olympic gold as a sprinter, and that dream seemed within her grasp. "The culmination of a lifetime of work was right before me. In that moment, it seemed like no choice at all," she writes. "The veil of a child out of wedlock at the prime of my career seemed unbearable. What would my sponsors, my family, my church, and my fans think of me?"

But the decision ended up breaking her, she writes. She flew to Beijing the day after the procedure despite the fact that she was supposed to avoid exercise for two weeks; her confidence waned and she couldn't sleep the night before her 300-meter race. She had expected to win, but instead came in third. She and her team, though, did win gold in the 4x400 relay later, and she bounced back in her career, having one of her best years as a runner in 2009. Even so, the now five-time Olympic medalist says she wore the abortion as "a scarlet letter" and that it took a toll on her relationship with Ross. She's pregnant again now, calling it the couple's "biggest blessing yet," and she tells ESPN she decided to share her story to help other young women, particularly female athletes, who experience something similar. (Read more abortion stories.)

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